STRATTANVILLE — It’s a smaller roster, but there’s enough talent back for the Clarion-Limestone Lions to continue their high expectations.
As a reminder:
— The Lions have won two straight Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference titles, five out of six and six of the last eight crowns.
— They finished third in District 9 Class 1A, then won their opening PIAA playoff game against Juniata Valley before a loss to Cornell finished things out with a 23-5 mark.
— Despite at 15-man varsity/JV roster, the Lions do return four players who made significant contributions to last season’s success, including senior guard Deion Deas the team’s leading scorer at 19.4 points per game. He’s already at 1,068 career points
Deas was a Third Team All-District player as per D9Sports.Com while junior forward Hayden Callen (16.6 ppg.) was a Second Team selection.
Senior Curvin Goheen (7.5 ppg.) and senior Mitch Knepp (3.4 ppg.) are also back from the regular playing rotation. Senior Kaden Park, junior Hayden Siegel and sophomore Bryson Huwar also played some varsity minutes and will be looked upon to provide depth this season.
“Obviously the loss of Ian Callen and Julian Laugand hurts,” said Ferguson, entering his 14th season with a 219-103 record. “We do have quite a few guys back from last season including Deion, Hayden, Curvin, and Mitch. Our biggest weakness going into the season will be our depth and lack of varsity experience coming off the bench.”
We only have 15 players on the roster, which is the lowest number I’ve had in my 14 years of coaching.
Other members of the team are senior Pete Rickard, juniors Bryant Smith and Braden Rankin, sophomores Nate Megnin and Corbin Coulson, and freshmen Ryan Hummell and Jordan Hesdon.
“Experience and good shooters will be our biggest strengths,” said Ferguson. “Although we have quite a bit of size on the floor, if we’re boxing out we should be able to control the boards against almost anybody we play.”
With the smaller roster size and lack of varsity experience, Ferguson anticipates playing more zone defense than his teams usually play. “You know me I like man-to-man defense, but I think I may have to play more zone this year out of necessity more than anything,” said Ferguson. “We need to stay out of foul trouble, so that is why we’ll probably be forced to play more zone defense than normal.”
Despite the low numbers and lack of bench contributions going into the season, Ferguson feels the goals are still the same for the Lions.
“The league is going to be very tough throughout this season,” said Ferguson. “But, I feel we still want to contend for the KSAC championship and if you get there you know you have a playoff berth. If we can finish in the top four of districts, we know we’d have a state playoff spot so our goal is to reach that point as well.”
The Lions will start their season at the Kaiser Classic in Grove City where they will face Fort LeBoeuf on Friday and Reynolds on Saturday.
The KSAC schedule starts Dec. 11 at A-C Valley, which is now a North Division opponent. The Falcons and Union switched divisions with Clarion and Cranberry, meaning that the KSAC-North now has the Lions, North Clarion, A-C Valley, Union, Venango Catholic and Forest Area.
Seniors: Deion Deas, Mitch Knepp, Kaden Park, Curvin Goheen, Pete Rickard.
Juniors: Braden Rankin, Hayden Siegel, Hayden Callen, Bryant Smith.
Sophomores: Nate Megnin, Corbin Coulson, Bryson Huwar.
Freshmen: Ryan Hummell, Jordan Hesdon, Richie Leadbetter
Grove City Tip-Off
6-Fort LeBoeuf, 5:30 p.m.
11-at A-C Valley
13-Venango Catholic (No JV), 8 p.m.
19-at North Clarion
27-28-at West Shamokin Tourament
15-at Redbank Valley
22-at Karns City
28-at Venango Catholic (No JV), 7 p.m.
7-at Forest Area (Tionesta)
Unless otherwise noted, home games start with JV at 6:30 p.m. with varsity to follow and road games at 6 p.m. with varsity to follow.